Discipline focus for Demons
Laharum netballers will have a stronger focus on discipline and professionalism this season under the guidance of playing A Grade coaches Rebecca Mcintyre and Caitlin Story.
Mcintyre said club netball leaders had a ‘two to three-year’ plan they hoped would lead to further success.
Despite several strong years, including a near-perfect home-andaway season last year, the Demons are still seeking an elusive premiership. Laharum made it to the preliminary final in 2017 but was defeated by eventual premier Natimuk United.
Mcintyre said the disappointment of falling short of a grand final berth would provide further motivation.
“At the end of the day, we didn’t handle the pressure well and they did,” she said.
“That’s something we are going to work on throughout the whole year. “Caito and I are on the same page and we want to send a consistent message from the start of the season. As A Graders – like at any club – we are role models and we need to set an example for the other grades, particularly for juniors coming through. The girls have responded really well to our direction. The atmosphere so far is really positive and the girls are really stepping up already, which is great.”
Mcintyre said netball pre-season started about a month ago and the club had attracted good numbers on the training track.
Team lists were finalised last week and the Demons will play practice matches against Wimmera outfit Horsham Saints tomorrow night.
“We’re all excited and looking forward to the start of the season,” Mcintyre said.
She said she and Story had taken a different approach this year, setting squads instead of teams.
The pair will coach both A and B squads.
“We’ll have squads for the first six weeks or so, so if a player is having a couple of good weeks in B Grade they will have an opportunity to go up to A Grade and vice versa,” Mcintyre said.
“We want to be able to promote players throughout the whole season, and that’s for all grades. If a player is going well in C Reserve, why shouldn’t they have an opportunity to have a go at C Grade?”
Mcintyre said Laharum would have a good mix of youth and experience in 2018 after retaining the majority
of its A Grade list. Goalie Maddie Iredell has returned to the club after a year in Geelong, midcourter Baylee Miller will travel from Bendigo and midcourter Courtney Guy has been promoted to the A Grade squad from B Grade.
A Grade will, however, be without midcourters Aily Mcauliffe and Ally Hiscock, who are off to university.
“It’s always hard to replace young talent, especially in A Grade, because those girls are fit and experienced,” Mcintyre said.
Mcintyre, who was a key part of a strong era of netball success at Noradjuha-quantong before transferring to Laharum, said junior development was vital for a strong netball club.
“During that time at Quanny it just became a given that you would play finals,” she said.
“That’s because we were giving girls as young as 13 and 14 a taste of A Grade. By the time they hit capacity they were already seasoned A Grade players. We want to do a similar thing at Laharum and breed them through.”
Mcintyre said Jess Hernon and newcomer Haley Parry would gain valuable senior experience this season.
“Jess had a great year last year and was part of the under-17 premiership team. She also played B Grade,” she said.
“This is her first year as a full-time senior netballer and we’re looking forward to seeing her step up. Haley is 17 and will also be in a senior squad. She’s been playing in Ballarat, so we’re excited to have her.”
Laharum made finals in all grades bar 15 and under last season, something the club is understandably proud of.
“All in all we had a successful year,” Mcintyre said.
“We hope that by putting some procedures in place and having support through the whole club we will be strong again in all grades. Having all grades make finals is definitely our goal. We have had a fantastic atmosphere out there and all the girls are extremely positive and focusing on getting ready for the season opener against Kalkee.”